Julie and I went with two friends to Hershey the day after Thanksgiving for a short weekend trip. We've always enjoyed going there around Christmas time because there are always plenty of Christmas lights, fun activities, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
A favorite place to stop in the past has been the Hershey Lodge, which has a real nice upstairs lounge with chocolate martinis and cigars.
This time, however, it was a much different scene.
Ever see the movie Aliens, where the Marines first walk into the hive and the hideous beasts are crawling through every nook and cranny, bringing woe and mayhem with them?
Replace the aliens with children and you've got a pretty good idea of what the Hershey Lodge front lobby looked like when the four of us walked in.
There were so many kids running amok that I'm sure some kind of local zoning ordinance was being broken. I was afraid to take a step for fear of kicking a child.
Perhaps saddest of all were the forlorn looks of hopelessness on the faces of those parents still lucid enough to recognize the chaos for what it was. Other parents sat there quietly in a daze, perhaps hoping that death's cold embrace would take them to a more peaceful place. At one point I even saw a woman sobbing quietly in the corner.
Yes, the kids were firmly in control. If they had wanted, they could have set up their own government right there and the adults would have been powerless to stop them.
The children hadn't just conquered the Hershey Lodge, however. No matter where we went during our brief stay, children were oozing out of every pore in the landscape. Running, screaming, kicking, crying... they were there, like a swarm of locusts devouring everything in their path, leaving naught behind but broken dreams and memories.
Perhaps the most comical quip I heard was made by one of the waitresses, who made the following remark to her comrade in arms that I was fortunate enough to overhear: "I figured out what I want for Christmas. I'm getting my tubes tied."
Here's hoping the parents we left behind made it out with some shred of sanity intact.